Over the last decades, the ability to collect and use data for making decisions has increasingly become important—from transportation, entertainment, marketing to even the health industry. Yet, the ability to collect and use quality data for informed decisions is not evenly distributed across the world. Low- and middle-income countries are increasingly seeing the benefit and making use of data for effective decision making—from education, housing, immigration to health.
Health programs need quality data to identify high-risk groups, disease hot spots and drivers of disease to inform routine service delivery. Without quality data, it is challenging for health facilities at all levels of care to make informed decisions about where to deploy services, who to target, and the best way to deliver them. As a result, many communities get missed by health programs, and are vulnerable to disease outbreaks. Use of accurate geospatial data can provide solutions for efficient and effective planning and service delivery.
Using geospatial data to improve service delivery
CHAI is supporting partner countries to close data gaps by strengthening data collection, management and monitoring and evaluation systems to improve health service delivery. We introduce digital health solutions to make it easier to manage and use data and train health workers to use and maintain the systems independent of our support both in the short and long-run.
For the last two years, CHAI through the Exemplar Utilization of GRID3 (Georeferenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development) Data project has been working with partner countries—Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Sierra Leone— to raise awareness on and test applications of GRID3 data to inform program planning and health service delivery. GRID3 works with countries to generate, validate, and use core geospatial data layers on population, settlements, infrastructure, and boundaries to inform program planning.
The project aimed to use geospatial data to improve access to health services, particularly for underserved communities. Geospatial data helps ministries of health understand the geographic distribution of populations, disease burden, available healthcare resources, and infrastructure, including road networks to aid decision-making processes. Working alongside ministries of health, we helped our partner countries use geospatial data including GRID3, in assessing health service coverage to help improve the delivery of services. GRID3, in combination with other geospatial data, was used in estimating target populations for services, defining operational health catchment areas, and visualizing settled areas nationwide, road networks, and other points of interest.
In the DRC, we were able to identify optimal locations for community care sites to bring a minimum package of services closer to communities living remotely from health facilities; in Ethiopia, we helped determine optimal locations for additional sites for oxygen plants to serve more people; in Ghana, we identified potential additional sites for screening children with sickle cell disease; in Kenya, we helped map operational health catchment areas and identify children missed during vaccinations, and finally, in Sierra Leone, we supported the ministry of health use microplanning maps to introduce the human papillomavirus vaccine.